The UK’s hidden homeless kids: How to help those living below the poverty line
Channel 4’s documentary Growing Up Poor: Britain’s Hidden Homeless Kids, which first aired in October 2021, shone a spotlight on just some of the many children in this country who live below the poverty line. The lack of unsuitable housing in the UK is causing families – such as those featured in the show – to live in cramped, temporary accommodation, which has a direct negative impact on the members of the household, particularly the kids. The coronavirus pandemic only worsened the issue, with children being forced to learn from home, universal credit amounts reducing and large volumes of people losing their jobs.
For some people, it might come as a surprise to read about how prominent poverty is in the United Kingdom. However, Eurostat data shows that nine of the ten poorest regions in Northern Europe are in the UK.
According to the government’s Households Below Average Income (HBAI) survey, anyone who’s household income is less than 60% of the median household income of the country is deemed to be living below the poverty line. This means a staggering fourteen million people in the UK (one in five) live in households below the poverty line. Additionally, 31% of children live in households below the poverty line, as opposed to 18% of pensioners.
Child Poverty Action Group also reports that 100,000 children in the UK lack three meals a day or a warm winter coat, 400,000 children go without fresh fruit or veg at least once a day, and 3.2 million children don’t have a one-week holiday once a year. Furthermore, a survey by Shelter found that 94% of teachers said that children from households where there was housing stress, such as overcrowding or poor conditions, were tired at school, negatively affecting their education.
Overcrowding due to a lack of suitable house space is a major issue in this country. According to i, of the estimated 23 million households in England, 787,000 are classed as overcrowded, meaning they have fewer bedrooms than they require to avoid “undesirable sharing.” That’s a rate of over 3%. With the current national social housing shortage, which sees over half a million people currently bidding for improved council housing, action needs to be taken by the government to resolve the issue.
Unlike some causes, helping children and families living below the poverty line can be difficult, as most of the power is in the hands of the government when it comes to benefits, housing and universal credit. But of course, putting pressure on the government to offer improved support to those who require it through petitions, letters to MPs and peaceful protesting can be beneficial.
However, the best way to directly help those below the poverty line is through donations to charities dedicated to cause. One of these charities is Child Poverty Action Group, an organisation which collects evidence from families living in poverty, and pushes forward achievable and long-term solutions to this devastating situation.
Charities like CPAG have the infrastructure in place to provide financial, legal and moral support to families who live in poverty in the UK, so can take your donation and help it have an impact on those who need it. Even just a small amount in donations can make a big difference to the lives of thousands.